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Tilting at Windmills

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June 19, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

SiCKO....Andrew Tobias does a movie review today:

I got to see Michael Moore's new movie, SiCKO, last night, which opens a week from Friday. Run don't walk. This movie is going to be huge — and have a huge impact. At the screening I attended, 1500 people were on their feet cheering through the entire credits.

It's true that I wish Michael Moore were a wee bit more scrupulous with the facts in his films, but I sometimes wonder if he doesn't insert random distortions into his movies deliberately. With rare exceptions, after all, they're small things that could just as easily have been presented correctly without damaging his narrative at all. But the end result is the kind of publicity money can't buy, and it's the sweetest kind of publicity of all: the kind that's subsidized by his enemies, who helpfully boost ticket sales by furiously denouncing his films for weeks on end.

With SiCKO, though, I'm willing to bet Moore mostly sticks to the facts. When you're dealing with the American healthcare industry, after all, the facts alone are usually hard enough to swallow. Anything more would simply seem implausible, like expecting us to believe that Katherine Heigl has a hard time getting a date.

Which, of course, explains why he shot part of SiCKO in Cuba. Sweden or Canada would have worked just as well, but probably no other country in the world could have produced the kind of howling denunciations from the National Review set that Cuba has produced. Even the State Department got briefly into the act. Really, Moore's brilliance at getting his mortal enemies to do all his publicity for him is unparallelled. His enemies' willingness to go along with this time after time is astonishing.

Kevin Drum 12:22 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (140)

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Comments

But don't you do the same for the Coulters, etc.?

Posted by: Jonny Shabadoo on June 19, 2007 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, your a turd for saying that the State Department is an 'enemy' of Michael Moore. The State Department is not the enemy of any American.

Posted by: ken on June 19, 2007 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

I find it an interesting theory that one should never think that the State Department helped one get shot at for no good reason. A crackpot theory, yet a theory nonetheless.

Posted by: parrot on June 19, 2007 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

His enemies' willingness to go along with this time after time is astonishing.

Poor sphincter control has always been their undoing.

Moore's choice of Cuba was brilliant, both from the standpoint of promotion and political effect. The very fact that Cuba is third world (or close to it) and roundly despised yet seems to offer superior health care is a powerful indictment of the health care system in the US.

The point of using Cuba surely was to embarrass and shame us into action. Even the outrage of the right over Moore's going to Cuba only reinforces the argument that we as Americans should be able to do better than this deeply flawed country.

Posted by: frankly0 on June 19, 2007 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

A Michael Moore v. Anne Coulter Cage Match.

now THAT I would pay to see.

Posted by: ny patriot on June 19, 2007 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

Debbie Schlussel does a movie review three weeks ago.

I bet Debb has no trouble getting a date...


for a commitment hearing.

Posted by: Roger Ailes on June 19, 2007 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, had to get another Katherine Heigl remark in there, eh Kevin? (Yes, I think she's beautiful too...) As far as I could tell in the movie you're referring to, there was no indication she was looking for a date. Are you you saying no women not in relationships or not having sex are doing so by choice?
As for sicko -- I'm still waiting for Moore's films to actually tip something over in favor of the good guys. I've always assumed his looseness with facts was part of the reason his movies hadn't made more of a dent in the national consciousness, beyond those that already basically agree with him.

Posted by: fenugreek on June 19, 2007 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

The Onion had a terrific take on this phenomenon: "Half Of Nation Outraged At New, Not-Yet-Released Michael Moore Film"

Posted by: Otto Man on June 19, 2007 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Somebody TiVo'd an interview Oprah had with Michael Moore for me...Oprah's take is that the movie is somewhat subdued in comparison Moore's previous films.

The only other film of Moore's that I've seen is Roger and Me, but I'll probably end up seeing this one. It's about time that the problems with this country's healthcare industry are addressed and debated in the open.

Posted by: grape_crush on June 19, 2007 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

fenugreek, two scenes from Moore's films have permanently altered my world view:

The scene in bowling for columbine where he walks into one Canadian house after another, because they are all left unlocked. The people inside, surprised to see him, don't freak out.

The scene in Farenheit 911 showing Bush's inauguration parade through the howling mobs of protesters. I had zero inkling before the movie that anything like that had happened.

Posted by: Boronx on June 19, 2007 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

Another bit that was really effective in F-911: the scenes of admin. officials primping for the TV. After seeing that, any mocking of John Edwards' haircut is transparently hollow and dishonest.

Posted by: Boronx on June 19, 2007 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

scrupulous with facts ?? you sound like you have swollowed the right wing spin on MM. I saw a screening of SICKO this weekend and MM did a Q & A afterwards - -he stated that he has only paid out 6200 bucks his entire career in settlement because of his films and NOTHING since 1990 -- if he was so loose with the facts as you claim he would have had to pay out much much more.

Posted by: smartone on June 19, 2007 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

When I tell Republicans or conservatives Cuba has a lower infant mortality rate than the US, they either disbelieve me or make up some rationalization of why (all of those premature births). Then I tell them Cuba also ranks very high in literacy.

Posted by: Brojo on June 19, 2007 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

Ken,

Kevin did say Moore's brilliance at getting his mortal enemies to do all his publicity for him is unparallelled.

"Moral" is a pretty significant qualifier.

Posted by: Everblue Stater on June 19, 2007 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

Ken, you're a turd for saying that Drum said that "the State Department is an 'enemy' of Michael Moore." Do you think we can't just scroll back up and see what he actually wrote?

Posted by: Lee on June 19, 2007 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

scrupulous with facts ?? you sound like you have swollowed the right wing spin on MM. I saw a screening of SICKO this weekend and MM did a Q & A afterwards - -he stated that he has only paid out 6200 bucks his entire career in settlement because of his films and NOTHING since 1990 -- if he was so loose with the facts as you claim he would have had to pay out much much more

Just another Drum drive-by iteration of a right-wing talking point...with zero examples to back himself up. This passes for "liberal reasonableness" and "moderation" in Drumworld.

Sigh...and the last post was so good, too.

Posted by: shortstop on June 19, 2007 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Canada is also featured. As is France and the UK.

Moore is good a picking the people who will appear in his films. In Sicko Moore uses a friend of mine's Dad.

His bicep rolled up into his chest after falling out of his golf cart in Florida and his American insurance company decided it was best to fly him back to Ontario.

Not only is he a retiree who spends six months a year in Florida and loves the US, he's an ex-cop and life-long member of the Conservative Party of Canada. In the film he talks about Kiefer Sutherland's grandfather, the father of Canadian health care and recently voted Best Canadian ever. He's going to be a tough one to discredit.

Posted by: wsam on June 19, 2007 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe a Dem Presidential candidate should hire Michael Moore as his/her campaign manager. The Dems could really use a dose of Moore's talent at finding and pushing his enemies' hot buttons to his advantage.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist (formerly RT) on June 19, 2007 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

Boronx

The Canadian scene slightly irritated me. Because really, Canadians living in big cities lock their door. And most Canadians in rural areas have readily accessible guns. Yes Canadians have a lower murder rate, and a lower gun ownership rate, and strong gun controls, but the 'laid back' society is not just about that. In fact, it's probably in part about the smaller gap between rich and poor in Canada, a function of a much more active welfare state, state medicare etc. But believe me, Canadians in big cities fear crime.

On the protests at the Inauguration, they were well covered here in Europe. It's amazing the respect your press shows your president, and the degree to which he is isolated from them and put on a pedestal, compared to our Prime Minister here.

Your press treated Bush almost the way the Italian media treated Berlusconi (Berlusconi owned most of the private media outlets, and the state owned TV was put under his direct authority-- he got a couple of comedians fired for making Berlusconi jokes).

Blair has been grilled by the BBC (state owned tv company)-- I mean really grilled, one on one, with top interviewers. I saw the same process with Royale and with Sarkozy in France.

Posted by: Valuethinker on June 19, 2007 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop

- Moore edited the interviews with Charlton Heston to make it look like Heston said things he didn't

- Moore made a big case that he was never allowed to talk to Roger Smith. In fact, he had 3 interviews with Smith

- that missile manufacturer he interviews, in fact the guy was surprised by his question because he was talking about a completely different component that they move through the town. He makes it look like the guy is being disingenuous, when in fact he is trying to be completely straight

I am sorry I am vague on the details, but if you surf around, you can find objective analyses from (liberal) media analysts about some of Moore's distortions. he is an effective propagandist, and much of what he says is true, but he also uses distortions.

As I express above I have my reservations about his characterisation of Canada on the question of personal safety. I am pro gun control, but it has been a bit of a nightmare to implement in Canada and it isn't the sole or even the main reason why Canada has a lower crime rate than the US.

Posted by: Valuethinker on June 19, 2007 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Valuethinker, but I live in a small American town where there's little crime and everyone owns a gun, yet we're all paranoid and lock our doors. I'm sure the scene way over generalized Canada. What affected me is what it says about America, at least my part of it.

Posted by: Boronx on June 19, 2007 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

An American guy told me of a friend who spent five days in a hospital in China with surgery to repair a hand he injured there in an accident. The total bill for surgery plus five days was $700.

He had the work checked out in the US, where the doc said it was done exactly how a US doc would do it. But his bill was over $700 for the consultation.

It is like the Big Three auto biz in the sixties, where the dinosaurs did not realize their plight. Competition is coming. MM is letting the public know in his own way.

Posted by: Bob M on June 19, 2007 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

Moore's brilliance at getting his mortal enemies to do all his publicity for him is unparallelled.

Wrong.

Mel Gibson brilliantly exploited the attacks of antisemitism addressed against the Crucifixion. I mean - I haven't seen the thing - but I understand large gobs of it were in Aramaic and Latin. Talk about a movie that was therefore doomed to fail....

Posted by: Thinker on June 19, 2007 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

The Canadian scene slightly irritated me. Because really, Canadians living in big cities lock their door.

When I lived in downtown Toronto I didn't, not when I was at home. Nor did most of my friends. And on the west coast our back door was unlocked even when noone was home. And yes, had a stranger walk in once.

So my experience at least jibes with Michael Moore. Maybe you can be slightly irritated with me too?

Posted by: snicker-snack on June 19, 2007 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure the scene way over generalized Canada. Over locking doors?

A bit. Someone can swoop into any neighbourhood from the highway. But I don't bother locking my door most of the time. The odds of getting hit are low, so I just go with the odds. Even those I know who did get hit don't get paranoid about it.

I always saw Americans as tough, not paranoid. Paranoia is a sign of weakness, isn't it?

Posted by: Bob M on June 19, 2007 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Valuethinker,

You seem to imply that the argument of the Canadian scenes was that gun control led to less crime.

My remembered impression of the scenes was the point that Canada had MORE guns per capita and LESS control. Yet Canadians also had less of a tendency to shoot each other.

Throughout the movie, he suggests that the problem is a culture of violence and fear - not gun ownership per se.

Posted by: apm on June 19, 2007 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

Valuethinker:

I have lived in Canadian cities my whole life (Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver). Even in East Vancouver, not exactly the best neighborhood, my front door is unlocked when I'm in the house. I only lock doors when I'm leaving or heading for bed. During the day, when I'm at home, it honestly wouldn't occur to me that my doors need to be locked. Here's the really crazy thing: I had a hard time believing people *do* lock their doors in the daytime (when they're home).

Posted by: dt on June 19, 2007 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

I would take issue with him being scrupulous with the facts at times. What he does, and does brilliantly, is present a *series* of facts, in order to lead the viewer into the believing the possibility of a specific narrative as truth. He leaves that final grain of doubt in our minds so that we'll do the last bit of research, hopefully, to discover the truth behind all the disparate elements he binds together into his films.

Show me a list of Michael Moore lies that aren't just mis-stated or mis-interpreted and I'll gladly hold my tongue.

Posted by: Fred F. on June 19, 2007 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Valuethinker: I have no problem with the presentation of specific criticisms of specific aspects of Moore's films. Off the top of my head, I could make 10 or 15 of them. Off the top of my head, I could probably name twice as many instances in which wingnut critics have charged Moore with outright falsehoods--and his critics were mistaken, lying or unable to determine the difference between a factual error and Moore's decision on how to present or shade information.

The guy makes controversial films in which many points and editing decisions are debatable. So debate those points and decisions.

What I'm objecting to (again) is Kevin's habit of flinging out established right-wing talking points without a single example to back himself up. The wingnuts are in the habit of painting Moore with the blanket description of "liar" (when they're not too busy disparaging his BMI) and most of the time, they don't bother to explain just what information they have a problem with. Kevin's doing the same thing serves no purpose whatsoever except validating wingnuttery and advancing his own peculiar idea of what constitutes "balance" in a post.

I might also add that the comment "[this time], I'm willing to bet Moore mostly sticks to the facts" not only supports the idea that Moore mostly doesn't--a statement that needs a whole lot of defending--it also acts as a weird preemptive review of a movie Kevin hasn't even seen. It's like predicting that tonight's Daily Show will be funnier than last night's or the next Oprah will be sappier than the last one. What's the point? Wait and see.

I loved Kevin's Green Zone post. Wish he'd carried through that post's moxie in this one, rather than carrying GOP water...again.

Posted by: shortstop on June 19, 2007 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

VT:

Canuckistan has relatively lax gun controls and fewer gun crimes and high gun ownership and unlocked doors. That latter is open (sorry) to debate. But that was Moore's key point--exploring why. You dig?

Chuck Heston said, in response to Moore's question as to why the U.S. has an unusually high gun crime rate, "We have probably more mixed ethnicity than other counries." (not true, by the way). Dude, the guy's a racist. As with George Allen, there's just no other way to spin it. But I suppose you already knew that.

Decent discussion here.

Posted by: ed on June 19, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Tell the truth now, is there a single person reading Kevin Drum today who would choose to be treated for a serious illness in Cuba rather than the United States? Does anyone here believe that ordinary Cubans receive the health care shown on film? Do you know what a Potemkin village is?

Moore is a skilled propagandist, to be sure, the Leni Riefenstahl of his generation. Well, if that turns you, it's a free country.

Posted by: DBL on June 19, 2007 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Gun ownership rate in Canucistan: 70%

7 million guns for 10 million Canucks.

Lots of "ethnic minorities" up there too.

Posted by: ed on June 19, 2007 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

well, no, factually it couldn't have been set as well in Cuba. that part's a lie in implication. why? cause Cuba has a two tier health system...hi-tech hospitals with plenty of supplies for the elite and for foreigners paying hard cash...where Moore went. then there's the hospitals where most Cubans go. which Moore didn't go to.

with that said, yes, the U.S. health care system is broken and yes, there are countries with significantly superior health care to the U.S.

Cuba is not one of them. talk to anyone who has been in Cuba for any length of time (i.e. years not weeks)...i.e. diplomats or some journalists...and it becomes clear that the average Cuban has worse health care than the average American.

yes, I realize that 45 million Americans are without health insurance (I'm one of them..though actually I'm a classic free rider -- young enough and healthy enough that not having insurance (which I can afford) is a rational choice...and I know that I'll be given emergency care if I need it), but that's 15% of our population...that's not the average American. who is truly screwed in the U.S. are the working poor...the middle and upper classes have health insurance (by and large), the truly indigent have health insurance, it's next rung up that doesn't.

Posted by: Nathan on June 19, 2007 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

(I'm one of them..though actually I'm a classic free rider -- young enough and healthy enough that not having insurance (which I can afford) is a rational choice...and I know that I'll be given emergency care if I need it)

You really are an idiot, Nathan (although it gives us an interesting glimpse into your actual employment situation). Silly boy, the worst you can imagine befalling you is getting sideswiped by a cab as you scream into your cell phone while crossing the street. Universe forbid that you should be diagnosed with a serious illness tomorrow (yes, it happens to arrogant young reality-deniers, too). You'll find out damned quickly what you'd have to do to get and keep that "emergency care": spend all your assets to make a dent in the medical bills...then, to obtain continued care, declare yourself indigent and go on public aid because no private insurer would take you for your preexisting condition. Or maybe you'd prefer to declare bankruptcy...oh, wait; you're going to have a little trouble doing that because of your guys' recent legislation on that very topic.

Complete foolishness. Utter and complete.

You did get one thing right though: the working poor are suffering greatly from the systemic problems in the U.S. You just forgot the next rungs up: the millions of working non-poor whose insurance is insufficient, whose claims are arbitrarily denied or whose insurance is canceled when they fall ill. From the previews, it looks like Moore isn't overlooking this enormous group like you're attempting to do.

Posted by: shortstop on June 19, 2007 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

I only lock doors when I'm leaving or heading for bed. During the day, when I'm at home, it honestly wouldn't occur to me that my doors need to be locked.

Me, too. And I live in Washington, DC. What's the big deal?

Posted by: Vicente Fox on June 19, 2007 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

...and, no, I don't own a gun.

Posted by: Vicente Fox on June 19, 2007 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Shortstop (June 19, 2007 at 1:51 PM): Game. Set. Match.
Kevin Drum: There's always next year.

Posted by: anonymous on June 19, 2007 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, yes, Kevin, I'm sure Moore is a proud protege of Walter Duranty, and it really speaks well of you that you find Moore admirable in some regard.

Posted by: Will Allen on June 19, 2007 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Holy fuck, ed, you couldn't even bother to check a source?

"10 million Canucks"?

Yeah, and we all live in fucking igloos. Sheesh.

Note to DBL: I've been to Cuba. Economic basketcase, absolutely, yet they have a great health care system that treats people equally. Sure, there's better care for you in the US if you're rich, but *every* Cuban has access to better health care than the 40 million Americans with *no* health insurance, and that's just a sick, sick fact.

Posted by: dt on June 19, 2007 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Gun ownership rate in Canucistan: 70%

7 million guns for 10 million Canucks.

Huh?

Where are you getting your numbers, ed?

First of all, there are over 30 million Canadians. Second, 7 million for 10 million isn't necessarily 70%. Third, I haven't done any googling on this yet, but I seriously doubt Canadian gun ownership is anything more than a small fraction of what you are claiming.

Posted by: skeg on June 19, 2007 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

and I know that I'll be given emergency care if I need it

Good luck getting emergency care for cancer.

Posted by: Stefan on June 19, 2007 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

cause Cuba has a two tier health system...hi-tech hospitals with plenty of supplies for the elite and for foreigners paying hard cash...where Moore went. then there's the hospitals where most Cubans go.
...
and it becomes clear that the average Cuban has worse health care than the average American.

Gee, any facts to back that up? If you look at a primary indicator of health care, such as the infant mortality rate:

"According to the latest C.I.A. World Factbook, Cuba is one of 41 countries that have better infant mortality rates than the U.S."
Note, this is not just comparing MIssissippi to Cuba, but is about the whole US.

Posted by: MonkeyBoy on June 19, 2007 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

source is Moore's movie. The 10 million must be households.

Posted by: ed on June 19, 2007 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

It thrills me that my tax dollars may end up helping to pay for Nathan if he gets hit by a flipping bus.

What a typical conservative.

Posted by: Susan on June 19, 2007 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Will, it really says something about you that you voted for the guy who did nothing to stop 9/11 and that you still hold the architect of the Iraq war disaster in some regard. How many Iraqis will die today because of your tribal loyalty to militarism?

Posted by: noel on June 19, 2007 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

DBL: "Tell the truth now, is there a single person reading Kevin Drum today who would choose to be treated for a serious illness in Cuba rather than the United States? "

I am guessing the ones without health insurance . . .

Posted by: EmmaAnne on June 19, 2007 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Poor Americans would be wise to let their children be born in Cuba. You may not want to live there, but it is a safer place to be born.

Posted by: Brojo on June 19, 2007 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

noel, please reprint any remark in which I indicate that I have regard for George W. Bush. The fact that I disliked him less that his opponents is not evidence that I have regard for him.

Posted by: Will Allen on June 19, 2007 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Nathan posts: "...and I know that I'll be given emergency care if I need it"

You'll also be given a bill for the emergency care. A bill you will be required to pay. Idiot.

Posted by: thug on June 19, 2007 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

According to an interview Moore did with Howard Stern the other day, he didn't go to CUBA so much as he went to Guantanamo Bay, a US military base. The point, he said, wasn't that CUBA's health program was so much better, but that suspected terrorists who caused 9/11 in US custody were getting far superior treatment than the firefighters and rescue workers who had to help out our side on that day in NYC. It was prompted, he said, by Bill Frist reading a list of all the health checks, including dental cleanings, that Gitmo detainees got while US citizens who worked on the WTC site got nada.

I haven't seen the movie, I'm just reporting on what Moore said on the Stern show.

Posted by: Jef Hebert on June 19, 2007 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

I hate everybody. But I hate liberals the most. Also, you're all illiterate.

Posted by: Wil Allen on June 19, 2007 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

Susan:

I paid 45K in taxes last year on 105K income. so fuck off. and I'm not counting sales taxes. I'm paying a lot more than my share. self-employment in NY's a bitch.

Stefan: I'm 32.

thug: its actually a perfectly rational choice. even if I broke my leg tomorrow...treatment wouldn't be more than one years insurance cost. it's not worth it.

Posted by: Nathan on June 19, 2007 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

and I know that I'll be given emergency care if I need it

And I know that my tax dollars will be paying for his emergency care.....

Posted by: Stefan on June 19, 2007 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan:

um, that's why I called myself a "classic free rider"...or didn't you read that?

yes, people like me are a sign that the system is broken. I said that too.

Posted by: Nathan on June 19, 2007 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

I'm kinda hoping that Nathan will one day be patriotic enough to obtain emergency medical care in Iraq at the hands of a US Army medic.

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on June 19, 2007 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

"I can't get seriously ill because I'm only 32!"

Unfuckingbelievable. You couldn't invent judgment this bad. Would be interesting to see his other "self-employed" business decisions.

Nathan's "thought" processes always fit in beautifully with the last six years and the Bush administration's utter inability to look two, much less six, seconds down the road.

Nathan, my wish for you is that luck will overrule your own moronic actions. May you not get what you deserve. That's the nicest thing anyone will ever say to you.

Posted by: shortstop on June 19, 2007 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, I don't hate people whom I don't know personally, and I've been lucky enough to never know anyone personally who was a legitimate target for such an emotion.

Posted by: Will Allen on June 19, 2007 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan: I'm 32.

Right. Because 32 year olds never get cancer or similar diseases....

Posted by: Stefan on June 19, 2007 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

I'm looking forward to it.

And Kevin, face it: "Knocked Up" was clever and funny.

You missed the boat on that one.

Posted by: KilgoreTrout XL on June 19, 2007 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, given the structure of our health care system, there may be substantial wisdom in a healthy, single, 32 year old business owner who has not yet acquired substantial assets to put off getting a health insurance policy for a few years. The capital that would be used on premiums may well be, on a risk adjusted basis, better utilized in growing the business, especially if the business owner thinks there is a decent chance he'll be marrying someone who works for a large employer withing the next five to ten years. Now, I don't have any problem telling such a person, if they, say, are diagnosed with cancer, or get in a srious accident, after having made such a decision, that the taxpayer will only be on the hook for pain meds until they croak, but I understand that most folks disagree with me.

Posted by: Will Allen on June 19, 2007 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop and Stefan:

um, you might want to try a little statistical literacy.

its a rational economic choice...and there's more than one economic paper on the subject verifying this.

it helps that a. I know my family's medical history; b. I'm not fat; c. I'm in superlative cardiovascular shape; d. I'm male.

starting about 40 it's a damn good idea to have insurance.

oh...and no assets that I'm imperiling.

but enough about me...like I said, Cuba has a two-prong medical system. they do some things well even at the lower-level that most Cubans experience (whoever said they have "equal" care is a credulous moron)...their preventative care system is excellent...thus the low infant mortality rate (assuming you take the figures at face value). but invasive surgery, serious conditions, etc? you sure as heck either be a foreigner with hard cash or high up in the regime.

so yeah, a poor citizen who's hit by a bus would be better off in Canada than in the U.S., and worse off in Cuba.

Posted by: Nathan on June 19, 2007 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

heh, Will Allen noticed the other part of the calculus.

nothing like living in the city with the highest surplus ratio of wealthy, employed, educated single women in the country...exactly the statistical opposite of CA actually.

Posted by: Nathan on June 19, 2007 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

nothing like living in the city with the highest surplus ratio of wealthy, employed, educated single women in the country

And a goodly supply of 10-foot poles??

Posted by: Ain't Touchin' Nathan With A... on June 19, 2007 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

So you have no assets, Nathan, nothing to lose because you haven't saved a dime at the age of 32 despite making more than $100K a year. That's more great judgment and responsibility there, guy.

So, since you've planned for nothing and have nothing, if you're diagnosed with a serious illness, you'll be fine going on public aid and Medicaid.

Is that right? Or will you choose Will's route and simply ask us to pay for your pain meds until you die from lack of treatment?

Which is it? Oh, you ignored that part of Will's post, did you?

Bad, bad, bad judgment. It's not about the statistical likelihood. It's about the worst-case scenario and how likely a particular bad choice is to completely, totally fuck up your future.

You don't by chance have a gambling problem, do you?

Posted by: shortstop on June 19, 2007 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

ckelly, you slay me.

Posted by: shortstop on June 19, 2007 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Gun ownership rate in Canucistan: 70%

7 million guns for 10 million Canucks.

Lots of "ethnic minorities" up there too.


OK guys, I'm Canadian, and 7 million firearms over 10 million households does not 70% gun ownership make. Most firearm owners own more than one gun. I would suspect there's probably 2 million homes with guns in Canada. This is where Moore did the biggest disservice to the truth. He wanted to avoid saying that guns were the problem, when really the amount of guns in the US is at a per capita rate 4-5 times that of Canada, and I would suspect, a leading cause of the murder rate being so much higher.

We do have heaps of people from all over though. My favorite scene was when he talked to the black man in Windsor, who was actually from Detroit, and the man said that he felt more welcome in Canada than in the US.

Posted by: Dismayed Liberal on June 19, 2007 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop, shortstop:

um, you realize that your argument reeks of Dick Cheney's "One Percent Doctrine" don't you? (the idea that a given event...if of sufficient gravity, must be treated as a certainty even though it's of very low statistical probability)...but then intellectual consistency isn't your thing.

anyway: since you decided to grant aspersions on my biography, here's plenty:

went to law school after doing my Ph.D....so I graduated at 28. worked at a firm for 2 years, then have been on my own for 2 years. used the income from the two years at the firm (which was higher than I make now...to pay off certain high-interest student loans that couldn't be consolidated...as well as purchase equipment for the artistic endeavour I'm now engaged in...I supplement my current income with consultant work on specific securities litigations).
so, it's not like there are years of savings. none in fact.

as to 105K in income...like I said, 45K goes to taxes. that leaves 60K takehome (these are last year's figures). this is NY. rent and utilities are 2.5K (and that's a steal for where I live). so after rent I'm at 30K. so, a little over 2K a month for everything else. if I added health insurance...($450-600 a month)...it wouldn't be pretty.

basic math my friend.

Posted by: Nathan on June 19, 2007 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Shortstop, you still don't get it. Given the current structure, Nathan's gamble is very sensible. If my preferred structure existed, it wouldn't be. My preferred structure doesn't exist, however.

Posted by: Will Allen on June 19, 2007 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

Also, depending on the business, a 32 year old entrepreneur could easily have poured all disposable income back into the enterprise, and not have tangible assets to show yet, and yet be operating the business very shrewdly.

Posted by: Will Allen on June 19, 2007 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK

What's your plan if you get really sick, Nathan? Seriously, chronically sick?

Come on, now, what is it?

Posted by: shortstop on June 19, 2007 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Why should we be surprised?

Al Qaida got George W. Bush to play to their tune and serve their purposes.

Bush has created the biggest PR boost for Al Qaida imaginable - billions spent on "advertising" beneficial to Al Qaida.

It is hardly even a small effort for Moore to get Bush's imbecilic followers to do the same for him.

Posted by: anonymous on June 19, 2007 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

"And Kevin, face it: "Knocked Up" was clever and funny."

Yup, that about sums it up Kevin. I went and saw it after your previous rant. I am not 20-something either, but it was a pretty damn good movie. Maybe a little weak in the start, but it just got better and better throughout. And you keep repeating this "Heigel has a hard time getting a date" thing. To my memory, there was zero indication of this in the movie. She was just out for a fun evening with her sister and unbelievably enough fell for the guy who got her a beer, acted sweet, and had a good sense of humor. The next morning she sobered and quickly realized what a slacker he was. If she hadn't gotten pregnant, she would never have talked to the guy again - is this really that shocking a story line for you? Come on Kevin, lighten up.

Posted by: HungChad on June 19, 2007 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

um, that's why I called myself a "classic free rider"...or didn't you read that?

Um, yes. And I'm bemoaning precisely the fact that you're riding off my money. You take the risk, and I pay for your appalling poor judgment.

And for the second time in two days, I glide right over the fact that Nathan is accusing me of lack of reading comprehension and poor attention to detail....

Posted by: Stefan on June 19, 2007 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

Will Allen: Also, depending on the business, a 32 year old entrepreneur could easily have poured all disposable income back into the enterprise, and not have tangible assets to show yet, and yet be operating the business very shrewdly.

Silly Willy. An able entrepreneur could have done that, yes. We're discussing Nathan now. Take a look at his resume, the cleaned-up version he's posted here. Anything jump out at you?

Shortstop, you still don't get it. Given the current structure, Nathan's gamble is very sensible. If my preferred structure existed, it wouldn't be. My preferred structure doesn't exist, however.

I do get it, hon, but I don't think you do. Your insure-yourself-or-die scenario doesn't exist--my snarking at it notwithstanding--but mine does. In case you hadn't noticed, it goes like this: An uninsured person who becomes significantly ill is responsible for the medical bills until his or her assets run out. After that time, this person, who is now uninsurable by private carriers, has the option of a) forgoing medical care or b) accepting publicly funded medical care. To accomplish b), the now assetless person must also go on public aid.

That's how it works in the U.S., Will. Now, Nathan has done a bang-up job of demonstrating, once again, that he's unable to look unflinchingly at certain basic realities about this American life. His worst-case scenario is, laughably, a broken leg, and even now he absolutely refuses to consider the possibility of serious illness. Does this sound like a competent young businessman to you?

Posted by: shortstop on June 19, 2007 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

Micheal Moore is a sicko. And you carry water for him.

Posted by: egbert on June 19, 2007 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

if I added health insurance...($450-600 a month)...it wouldn't be pretty.

I also note that, in classic Nathan goalpost-shifting fashion, we've gone from "I can well afford health insurance but I don't want it" to "Woe is me, I can't afford it." The only constant is his refusal to admit that he might need it.

Posted by: shortstop on June 19, 2007 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop:

the statistical odds of someone in my demographic position getting a serious chronic illness are extremely low.

Fact.

that's not worth $450-600 a month to avert.

but then math isn't your thing.

Posted by: Nathan on June 19, 2007 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, Kevin, what's more amazing than Moore's success in baiting his "enemies", is his compatriots' eagerness to turn a blind eye to the realities of Cuban health care in the name of scoring political points. Take a trip there sometime Kevin. Visit an actual clinic, not a potemkin hospital staffed with foreign doctors. Wander around the tin roof, dirt floor neighborhoods with no electricity and look at the middle aged people with half their teeth missing. I have. It's not pretty. Cuba imports sugar for fuck's sake. Where do you think all the money comes from for all this high quality "free" health care? No, but what amuses Kevin is when Moore's "enemies" point out what a disgraceful sham this all is. Clap away liberals, no one in Cuba can hear you!

Posted by: Homer on June 19, 2007 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK
as to 105K in income...like I said, 45K goes to taxes. that leaves 60K takehome (these are last year's figures). this is NY. rent and utilities are 2.5K (and that's a steal for where I live). so after rent I'm at 30K. so, a little over 2K a month for everything else. if I added health insurance...($450-600 a month)...it wouldn't be pretty.

basic math my friend.
--Nathan

You know what's less pretty? Your knowledge of medical costs.

I had a back surgery in 2005 (second, actually). Pretty simple -- three hours and a two day hospital stay.

Total bill: $180,000. Seriously. $180,000.

I can't imagine what it'd take to fix someone in a car wreck. Or what chemo would cost.

The fact it was that expensive is insane.

The fact that if I hadn't had insurance, I'd be totally hosed, is insane.

The fact anyone would choose to go without insurance and get screwed with that kind of bill is insane.

And it's insane and sad that millions of Americans have no choice.

Posted by: Mark D on June 19, 2007 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Mark D:

sorry. but explain why I (not you) would need back surgery.

if I get hit by a cab...it's going to be someone else's fault...their insurance will cover it. etc.

Posted by: Nathan on June 19, 2007 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

but then math isn't your thing.

Do you cheat on your taxes Nathan? If not, why not? Odds are you won't be audited.

Posted by: ckelly on June 19, 2007 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Right, Nathan. You leave or get fired by a law firm after only two years, while you still have enormous law school loans to pay off, because you can't wait another minute to follow your bliss as an "artist." You choose to pay Manhattan rents. Because of these decisions and other choices you're not mentioning in this thread but have discussed in the past--for instance, your avowed fondness for pricy restaurants and other of life's niceties--you can't manage to come up with $450 a month for health insurance.

And I'm not good at math.

Don't misunderstand me. You have every right to spend your self-limited income on whatever you wish. But then you lose the right to cry about not being able to afford even catastrophic health coverage, you see.

And I note you still haven't told us what you plan to do if that statistically unlikelihood turns out to have your number on it. Since you proudly announced your non-insured status and have been so eager to explain what you'll do if a minor injury should occur, I can't see why you're continuing to be so reticent about how you'll handle paying for a major illness. Surely you've thought this through.

Haven't you?

Posted by: shortstop on June 19, 2007 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Nathan: if I get hit by a cab...it's going to be someone else's fault...their insurance will cover it. etc.

I know this is going to puzzle you, Nathan, but it's possible that something could happen to your health that isn't attributable, and thus chargeable, to someone else. Something bad, Nathan. Something big.

You're having us on. No one could really be this stupid.

Posted by: shortstop on June 19, 2007 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Nathan: . . . the statistical odds of someone in my demographic position getting a serious chronic illness are extremely low.

However, the statistical odds of someone in Nathan's demographic position getting terminal stupidity appear to be very high based on a sampling of one (Nathan himself).

Posted by: anonymous on June 19, 2007 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

Nathan: . . . if I get hit by a cab...it's going to be someone else's fault...their insurance will cover it. etc.

Obviously, Nathan has not been introduced to Bush's world of tort reform (or perhaps he is just in denial).

LOL.

Then again, Bork the Dork touted tort reform and is now himself pushing a frivolous and outlandish lawsuit for his own actions that were vastly more dim-witted than spilling hot coffee on one's lap.

So, maybe people like Bork and Nathan believe they are above their own tort reform rules - "your lawsuit is frivolous, mine is not, and I get to decide that" is their rule!

Posted by: anonymous on June 19, 2007 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop: No one could really be this stupid.

Bush is living evidence that this statement is grossly inaccurate.

Posted by: anonymous on June 19, 2007 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

anonymous: Then again, Bork the Dork touted tort reform and is now himself pushing a frivolous and outlandish lawsuit for his own actions that were vastly more dim-witted than spilling hot coffee on one's lap.

My favorite part is the punitive damages Bork is demanding from that dastardly Yale Club on top of the $1 mil for his headache and sore leg. Look up "shame" in these guys' personal dictionaries and you'll see...wait, these guys' dictionaries don't contain that word.

Posted by: shortstop on June 19, 2007 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

sorry. but explain why I (not you) would need back surgery.

You slip and fall, for example, or injure yourself at the gym leaning down to pick up a ten-pound weight. Or you get in a cab, the cab crashes, instant back injury.

if I get hit by a cab...it's going to be someone else's fault...their insurance will cover it. etc.

Unless, of course, that cab owner (or any other kind of person who could cause you harm) has decided that insurance isn't really worth the cost to them and has decided to go without. In which case you're fucked. You think, for example, that all those gypsy cabs roaming around are fully insured?

Posted by: Stefan on June 19, 2007 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

Shortstop, the purpose of insurance is to be protect assets. If a person with a small amount of assets can obtain health care services via Medicaid, is very unlikely to be diagnosed with a chronic illness prior to age 40, and very unlikely to suffer a serious accident, and is likely to be married to someone through whom they can enroll in an open enrollment plan by age 40, it is statistically unwise for them to invest $50,000 in health care premiums over the next 8 years. It doesn't make any sense to use $50,000 in current income to protect assets which don't exist. Why is this so difficult to grasp?

Posted by: Will Allen on June 19, 2007 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you, homer. The degree to which people in 2006 are willing to accept at face value described conditions in a place where descrbing conditions in the wrong way can land a person in a prison is astounding. All these folks, kevin included, could have done a great job subbing for Walter Duranty in the '30s. They are useful in the classic sense.

Posted by: Will Allen on June 19, 2007 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

Shortstop, the purpose of insurance is to be protect assets.

Not quite -- the purpose is also to pay for services by spreading the cost around, in this case medical services.

If a person with a small amount of assets can obtain health care services via Medicaid,

Merely having a small amount of assets won't qualify you for Medicaid. Nathan, for example, with his $105K salary would never be able to qualify.

It doesn't make any sense to use $50,000 in current income to protect assets which don't exist.

Assets may not exist now, but if you're stuck with a big hospital bill due to not having insurance you'll have to pay that off with future assets.

Posted by: Stefan on June 19, 2007 at 5:39 PM | PERMALINK

Will, you chastise Kevin for his "regard" for Moore which has almost no effect on the lives of individuals and then claim that your vote shows no "regard" for Bush, even as it enables him to engineer the slaughter of tens of thousands. Seems quite clear which one of you has done more damage to the real world.

As a two-time voter for Bush your tribe has committed shocking violence both to the people of the Middle East and to our own constitution. If you had a smidgen of decency you would refrain from all political action until you could atone for the massive bloodshed you and your tribe have engendered.

Posted by: noel on June 19, 2007 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Nathan: if I get hit by a cab...it's going to be someone else's fault...their insurance will cover it. etc.

That's a very... trusting attitude, that they'll have insurance, and that their insurance doesn't fight paying out tooth and nail, and that the insurance is deep enough to cover, say, years of rehab.

My next door neighbor used to be an up-and-coming near-executive for a Silicon Valley tech company. Used to be. Now she does what she can from home during her 3-6 good hours each day. She does cat sitting. If she hadn't inherited her house she'd be screwed.

What happened was her car got t-boned by some guy. Sure, everyone had insurance, but that guy had just the minimum, and she needed very expensive surgeries to rebuild her legs. (she can walk, with a cane).

Her own insurance wasn't evil, but it did have a cap. Like the guy said above- $180,000 for one surgery isn't difficult. She had multiple surgeries, and lots of post-op stays, and plenty of rehab: she hit the cap hard.

What about the law? He had assets: she sued and won- it was entirely his fault. But he went back home to another country, and so she got nothing (other than tens of thousands of bills from her lawyer).

Or consider what happened to a friend of mine during a month when he was between jobs and uninsured (COBRA has exceptions).

One evening he was with friends, and they were walking by a bar. Two guys rushed out, fighting and drunk, and one hit my friend in the nose / lower eye socket. Totally random.

Broken nose and a broken bit of lower eye socket: 12 hours at the hospital. $10,000. He negotiated it down to $8,000 because he could pay all at once.

Nathan, you and your same-aged friends must have had a charmed life so far (you don't know anyone with a chronic illness at your age? Even depression makes one uninsurable)... it's almost cute in its innocence, except that it'll be my taxpayer dollars paying for your basic care if someone t-bones your rental car.

Posted by: Kathryn in Sunnyvale on June 19, 2007 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

Companeros! I am so encouraged that you have highlighted the workers paradise in Cuba. Fight the reactionaries among you who would denigrate the revolution! Why, did not the loyal minions of the Commandante aggressively act to assist those suffering from the so-called "Aids" when the decadent west was denying it - calling it the "gay" cancer?! In Cuba, special medical treatment facilities were organized - from scratch! - to house and treat those suffering from this curious medical condition. The razor wire and fences were to ENSURE the safety of those being treated inside - [scoff], truly, you could not imply that the other cubanos would have hostile feelings for the AIDS sufferers? That is your narrow capitalist fear-mongering liar government talking!!!! the government in Cuba, opps sorry - I meant the natural, perfect expression of the will of the workers united [ok, let us call it "whatever Commandante wants"] would not countenance such an abomination! Why, just now I correct his beknightedness, El Commandante himself - He said "The USA will NEVER have Cuba." "Actually," I corrected him, " They did have Cuba, they just gave it back to us after liberating it from Spain." so you see, we HAVE free and open dialogue with..[sound of gunshot, body slumping to floor].....[transmission ended].

Posted by: Californio on June 19, 2007 at 5:48 PM | PERMALINK

Will, one purpose of insurance is to protect assets. In the U.S., with our current system set up so that the uninsured can only obtain continuing major medical care if they a) are wealthy to the degree that they can pay for any and all medical treatments, or b) are willing to sign away the ability to earn income or receive it from family members (i.e., go on public aid, which is the only way to obtain full medical care that is publicly funded), the purpose of private insurance is somewhat wider. That is, it exists not only to protect any assets you may currently hold; it also a) protects, to a degree, your ability to continue to be covered by private insurance after an illness is diagnosed and b) protects your ability to keep working rather than consign yourself to indigence.

You casually state that a person with few assets can obtain Medicaid as though that person can continue to work and retain control of his or her income, despite my having pointed out several times that this is not the case. (There are some supplemental state plans that do insure low-income employed people, usually those who already have some limited insurance, but these tend to have very limited coverage, so Medicaid is pretty much it in the case of serious illness or injury for the uninsured.) It is not the case that should Nathan become seriously ill, he could simply grab a little Medicaid and go on with whatever his job or other source of income at that time might be.

Why is this so difficult for you and Nathan to grasp? One would expect that before making the monumental decision to forgo having health insurance, one would thoroughly research the implications. But Nathan has not and refuses to do so, and here you are pretending that public health insurance operates completely differently than it does.

Posted by: shortstop on June 19, 2007 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

noel, what do you care about the welfare of tens of thousands? As long as you can feel good about yourself, every Iraqi and Cuabn could live in totalitarian squalor until the end of time as far as you are concerned. As long as you could advance your tribe's talking points. It literally is the only thing that matters to you.

Go ahead an lie some more about how I've expressed regard for George W. Bush or the Republican Party, however. Lying is the other activity that makes you feel good.

Posted by: Will Allen on June 19, 2007 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan (I can't say that I've ever taken a gypsy cab, why would I?) and Shortstop, want to explain to me again what's wrong with Cheney's One Percent Doctrine?

I'll help you out. in a nutshell, there are many statistically unlikely but catastrophic risks that could be (to some extent) ameliorated by significant sums, or measures taken now. However, no one can ameliorate all of them. So you have prioritize. further, every dollar spent on them is an opportunity cost on something else.
so it turns into a simple mathematical balancing.

oh, and Shortstop, I'd rather eat at Per Se once at 32 then three times at 80. and I'd much rather be having sex with that hot young thing at 32 than at 80. so, yeah, my choices lean toward consumption at this point in my life.

Posted by: Nathan on June 19, 2007 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

Californio prefers Batista to Castro.


Posted by: Brojo on June 19, 2007 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan: Merely having a small amount of assets won't qualify you for Medicaid. Nathan, for example, with his $105K salary would never be able to qualify.

and: Assets may not exist now, but if you're stuck with a big hospital bill due to not having insurance you'll have to pay that off with future assets.

Precisely. Once again, Nathan will have the choice of going on public aid if he wants Medicaid or potentially spending the rest of his life paying off his medical bills. And if he chooses the latter, his creditors aren't going to wait around patiently for his minuscule monthly payments. He will be under enormous pressure every week or day of his life to pony up, his creditors will obtain judgments against his future income, and if major medical care is ongoing, he'll also be under great pressure to declare himself indigent so the provider can be reimbursed by the feds and/or the state.

Or again, he can try declaring bankruptcy--good luck with that now that we have bankruptcy "reform."

Posted by: shortstop on June 19, 2007 at 5:58 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop: where do you get my complaining about not having insurance? I said that it's a rational choice. (I would vote for single payer universal health care, but that's a separate matter.)

kathryn:

um, this is NY. I don't drive a car. heck, my license expired. cabs here are heavily regulated and usually owned by businesses (not the individual cab driver). they have serious insurance.

sure, I've had female friends with serious physical medical issues...(I don't hang out with seriously depressed people)...and it's certainly conceivable that I could pay 8K for some (relatively) minor surgery. so? that's little more than the cost of insurance for one year. I've already paid for that and more by foregoing insurance.
in fact, by not having insurance and without serious assets that can be garnished...I'm in a prime position to negotiate medical bills down. (standard markdown for people in my position...40-50% if you stick to your guns.)

shortstop: "It is not the case that should Nathan become seriously ill, he could simply grab a little Medicaid and go on with whatever his job or other source of income at that time might be."

actually, I could. stop doing the legal stuff...presto...no real income. go on Medicaid. get well. return to work.

Posted by: Nathan on June 19, 2007 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

Nathan isn't worried because, when he rolls in the trauma center after that cab runs over him, I'll be up all night fixing his sorry ass for nothing. I've done it for 30 years and that gives one a unique view of the immigration situation. More than half the uninsured are illegals.

I'm not defending the present system because it is unsustainable but I am amused when ignoramuses opine about such complex subjects.

Posted by: Mike K on June 19, 2007 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop, there are many state plans which allow an otherwise uninsurable person to obtain coverage, even a person earning a decent income,although I'm certainly not sure about New York. Again, however, you are ignoring the relative odds of a healthy 32 year old male with good habits having such misfortune befall him prior to age 40, and ignoring the odds that he will marry somebody with access to an open enrollment plan.

I will say this however; an insurance salesman's dream is the person who wants to insure against the loss of assets which don't exist.

Posted by: Will Allen on June 19, 2007 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

anonymous: um, what "tort reform" are you talking about? I believe the legislation which was proposed (and not passed) dealt with limitations on punitive damages...which would have no bearing on medical cost awards.

Kathryn: "Her own insurance wasn't evil, but it did have a cap. Like the guy said above- $180,000 for one surgery isn't difficult. She had multiple surgeries, and lots of post-op stays, and plenty of rehab: she hit the cap hard."

so basically you're fucked even if you have insurance. then why should I spend 35K on it for the next five years?

shortstop: you're right, I haven't thought through what I would do if a catastrophic, unpaid for health event hit. you're absolutely right. I also haven't thought through what I would do if I was hit by lightning, or how I would live my life as a paraplegic (should have married a long time ago to have someone take care of me), or if that nuke went off or many other statistically unlikely catastrophic events...and neither have you.

Posted by: Nathan on June 19, 2007 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

Mike K:
"Nathan isn't worried because, when he rolls in the trauma center after that cab runs over him, I'll be up all night fixing his sorry ass for nothing."

correct. if you look up the thread you'll see that I'm certainly not supporting the current system. just noting that I'm a classic free rider...and that people like me make up a small percentage of the uninsured population.

[warning: handle spoofing will get you banned]

Posted by: Nathan on June 19, 2007 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan (I can't say that I've ever taken a gypsy cab, why would I?)

*sigh* You don't have to take a gypsy cab to have one hit you, or the car you're in. Uninsured and/or underinsured drivers do exist.

Posted by: Stefan on June 19, 2007 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

oh, and Shortstop, I'd rather eat at Per Se once at 32 then three times at 80. and I'd much rather be having sex with that hot young thing at 32 than at 80. so, yeah, my choices lean toward consumption at this point in my life.

Huh. Personally, I'd rather eat at Per Se now and until I'm 80, and I'd rather be having sex with hot young things in my thirties and up to and well into when I'm 80. But then again, because I save a lot of money and am insured I'll be able to. Nathan, not so much.

actually, I could. stop doing the legal stuff...presto...no real income. go on Medicaid. get well. return to work.

AHAHAHAHAHA! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! *wiping tears of laughter from eyes* Kids say the darndest things, don't they?

Posted by: Stefan on June 19, 2007 at 6:31 PM | PERMALINK

Nathan: where do you get my complaining about not having insurance?

Right here, pal, where you whined about not being able to afford it: if I added health insurance...($450-600 a month)...it wouldn't be pretty.

Nathan: actually, I could. stop doing the legal stuff...presto...no real income. go on Medicaid. get well. return to work.

Again, you've have to quit all jobs and give up all income. Right. So. "Get well." Except that, you know, we're not talking about a head cold in our scenarios here, nor is a car accident the sole possibility (although it seems to be the only one you can manage to picture. I do apologize to everyone for mentioning the sideswiping cab, but my point that it represented the outer limit of Nathan's understanding seems to have been dead on.).

The serious and/or chronic illnesses you continue to pretend can't happen to you would require, you know, ongoing care. And ongoing care requires, you know, ongoing coverage past the date that you throw off the shackles of Medicaid. What are you going to do when you can't get private coverage for your preexisting condition, and the bills are piling up from the care you'll want to obtain? Do you plan to quit your job every two years, have a round of Medicaid-paid treatments, go back to work and do it all over again?

Really, this is like talking to a child.

shortstop: you're right, I haven't thought through what I would do if a catastrophic, unpaid for health event hit. you're absolutely right. I also haven't thought through what I would do if I was hit by lightning, or how I would live my life as a paraplegic (should have married a long time ago to have someone take care of me), or if that nuke went off or many other statistically unlikely catastrophic events...and neither have you.

Well, let me help you out there. You're fucked on #1 and #2 because you were too damned stupid to get catastrophic coverage in the joyous "consumer" period of your don't-stop-not-thinking-about-tomorrow life.

Stefan: *sigh* You don't have to take a gypsy cab to have one hit you, or the car you're in. Uninsured and/or underinsured drivers do exist.

Terminal literalness, commonly manifested as an attempt to avoid grasping the larger picture. It can be treated, but the drugs are expensive. Does the patient have prescription coverage?

Posted by: shortstop on June 19, 2007 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

Will Allen: shortstop, there are many state plans which allow an otherwise uninsurable person to obtain coverage, even a person earning a decent income

There sure are, Will! Not "many," but some. As I mentioned above, they tend not to provide very extensive coverage. And are you aware they tend to have limited funding and very long waiting lists?

Of course, Nathan has this covered, as he's carefully researched what his options are.

Again, however, you are ignoring the relative odds of a healthy 32 year old male with good habits having such misfortune befall him prior to age 40, and ignoring the odds that he will marry somebody with access to an open enrollment plan.

Not at all. I'm repeatedly asking Nathan what he plans to do in the event the statistics don't go his way and the girl of his dreams doesn't materialize one night soon at Per Se ("Excuse me, sir; your card has been declined.") and pledge him her troth and family coverage. I've yet to get an answer from him. As we know from his posting history, Nathan doesn't like to think about things that require him to engage in a little responsibility and self-denial.

Posted by: shortstop on June 19, 2007 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

Nathan doesn't like to think about things that require him to engage in a little responsibility and self-denial.

Sounds like the perfect GOPer.

Posted by: ckelly on June 19, 2007 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

Kathryn: "Her own insurance wasn't evil, but it did have a cap. Like the guy said above- $180,000 for one surgery isn't difficult. She had multiple surgeries, and lots of post-op stays, and plenty of rehab: she hit the cap hard."

Nathan: so basically you're fucked even if you have insurance. then why should I spend 35K on it for the next five years?

Oh pshaw, you're just being trollish.

She was in a bad accident*. If she didn't have insurance she'd have only gotten the bare minimum of all types of medical services. One of her surgeries made the difference between barely walking and walking ok: that's the sort of thing that affects the rest of your life.

Have you never been in a rehab-focused nursing home? Considered all the little things you get with insurance? For example, you'll be more comfortable (less noise) if you only have one roommate versus three. You'll recover faster if you get physical therapy 7 days a week instead of 5.

$35,000? That's three days in the hospital. One of my best friends recently did that because she got a MRSA (flesh eating bacteria) infection in her leg from working out at the gym.

If you've got $35 in savings and are happy to drain it for a minor emergency, lovely.

Maybe New York is different: in California one can buy a bare-bones catastrophic policy for under $100/month. My reasonable individual-account insurance is $300/month (I'm in my 30's).

--------
* each year there are 6 million vehicle accidents. 42,000 people die. But for every deadly accident there's going to be several near-deadly, etc.

Posted by: Kathryn in Sunnyvale on June 19, 2007 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK
…. no one in Cuba can hear you! Homer at 4:38 PM
So as bad as you say Cuba is, Moore manages to make the US look worse by comparison. I love it when you posit an argument that backfires in your own kester.
…It doesn't make any sense to use $50,000 in current income to protect assets which don't exist… Will Allen at 5:29 PM
In typical Will Allen fashion, we learn that insurance is for the rich. Away, you poor buggers! You're not worth the cost. Who else might have their assets on the line in your scenario: the hospital, the hospital corporation, its donors, local governments, taxpayers…. D'uh, it's not only the uninsured. When you look at total cost of health coverage to Americans it comes out to over $6 000 per whereas in other countries with single payer, it's under $3 000. You get less for more. That's not being a smart shopper.
..what do you care about the welfare of tens of thousands? As long as you can feel good about yourself, every Iraqi and Cuabn could live in totalitarian squalor until the end of time ….Will Allen at 5:55 PM
When did you ever care about the welfare of millions of Americans? Your protestations of concern about Cubans and Iraqis ring hollow. When it suits your political agenda, you express concern. When it doesn't, you don't; as, for example, the millions of other people in totalitarian lands. When Saddam was useful to Reagan, not one of you cared about his totalitarianism or his gassing Kurds. What did you ever do for Cubans but pursue policies that made their lives worse instead of opening up and making their existence better. When Americans sink into poverty, lose jobs, become uninsured, your response is a sneer of ideological superiority. Posted by: Mike on June 19, 2007 at 7:16 PM | PERMALINK

it's certainly conceivable

Women of Nathan's age have a much bigger problem with lack of healthcare than men. Young men and women might not contract a disease or have an emergency requiring medical care, but women have other medical needs, especially if they want to have children. The women who earn less than the median income have a very difficult time paying for healthcare. Perhaps women can overcome the powerful genetic forces enticing them to become pregnant, as economic libertarians would counsel them to do, but many women are going to choose having a child before menopause, and they will never live in households with incomes as great as Nathan's. Many other countries, including ones much poorer than ours, are able to provide these medical services to their young women and children.

Posted by: Brojo on June 19, 2007 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin - would you mind giving us a few examples of MM's "looseness with the facts"? You sound like a Republican, just throwing a charge out there without citing a single piece of evidence in support of your claim.

Posted by: chuck on June 19, 2007 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

I sometimes wonder if he doesn't insert random distortions into his movies deliberately.

Bullshit.

He is a sloppy filmmaker. Period. He'll forever be stuck in the "guy down the street who runs around with his video camera" mode.

I think it is a more compelling way of telling a story and getting a point across. Sure you need to be careful with facts, but to indict an entire film for a few sloppy mistakes is silly.

He is impassioned person trying to make a shine light on some very obvious injustices that this country tolerates... all the while feeding his ego (what film maker doesn't?).

Posted by: Simp on June 19, 2007 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

I used to do a bit of rock climbing (the kind with harnesses and ropes) in class. Big cliffs on the Potomac River north of D.C. There were always some free climbers, young, highly fit and tanned guys (they made a point of wearing only climbing shorts and shoes in summer) clinging to some invisible hand- and footholds thirty feet up.

When I read about Nathan, I think of these guys.

Posted by: sara on June 19, 2007 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

For those who haven't done rock climbing, "free climbing" is WITHOUT ropes of any kind. There's nothing between you and some very hard rocks thirty feet down.

Posted by: sara on June 19, 2007 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

LOL, Sara. Nathan will read that, see "young, highly fit and tanned guys," smirk to himself, and be completely without any thought of death, brain damage or broken limbs.

Posted by: shortstop on June 19, 2007 at 7:50 PM | PERMALINK

Shortstop, you also neglect the odds that if nathan has such a medical misfortune befall him, he'll be unable to work much anyways, rendering the loss of the job to qualify for Medicaid a moot point. The chance of a healthy 32 year old having that sort of medical misfortune, yet still being able to continue on the job, are really darn small. Stefan likes to pretend he'll come out ahead of the person who purchases health insurance between the age of 32 and 40, but the vast majority of the time he won't, and whether it makes sense to spend 30 to 50k on health insurance premiums in those years is really a matter of risk aversion, which varies greatly from individual to individual. This may be shocking, but everybody is not the same in regards to that preference, so if you really want people to insure themsleves with greater consistency at those ages, you need to change the incentive structure.

Posted by: Will Allen on June 19, 2007 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

The anonymous nitwit above has made so many unsupported assertions regarding my alleged positions that it isn't worth responding to in detail.

Posted by: Will Allen on June 19, 2007 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

I was handle hijacked at 8:12. Charlie again?

Posted by: shortstop on June 19, 2007 at 8:18 PM | PERMALINK

Mmmm, thank you.

Posted by: shortstop on June 19, 2007 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

The very fact that anyone takes MM's bullshit propaganda seriously is a sad statement as to their mental level.
Now, before any of you start rolling off all your degrees and qualifications, remember:
Education doesn't necessarily equal intelligence.

Posted by: Hunter on June 19, 2007 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, why do you accept the Repub frame that MM is loose with his facts. The only thing anybody's ever nailed him on is chronology--and that's true of all documentaries, or storytellers in general, at some point.

I met him recently and mentioned that very notion to him, and he said that when Fahrenheit came out, he offered a substantial reward to anyone who could find something factually wrong in the movie. And no one came forward for the money. BTW, there's an interesting bit in Sicko about him giving some dough to one of his adversaries, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone.

Posted by: Kenji on June 19, 2007 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

Education doesn't necessarily equal intelligence.

and intelligence doesn't equal wisdom. But c'mon, back up your assertions there, Hunter. Please, give me three items from any Michael Moore film that are provably wrong. And give me the proof. A Hunter should know how to take aim not just shoot wildly at the sky. Or are you just another ineffectual, full-of-shit, impotent, nut-wing know-nothing?

Posted by: snicker-snack on June 19, 2007 at 11:01 PM | PERMALINK

I thought when Nathan said that being a "free-rider" was a rational choice, he was maybe 21. But at 32, he's leaving it a bit late.

I didn't have health insurance when I was 21, either.

But I was 30 when we discovered the tumor, and I had insurance, even though I had been quite healthy up to that point. The insurance covered the first visits to the doctor and a couple of tests, but that's all. I was fortunate in that my doctor was affiliated with a related program at NIH, which was close to where I lived, so after that I got my tests, consultations, and treatment for free - which means that you paid for it. I couldn't have done so.

Moore's film, though, isn't about the people who don't have health insurance - it's about the people who do have health insurance and still can't get treatment. One of his interviewees, who had been told by her insurer that what she had was not a life-threatening condition, died of it before the film was finished.

Americans already pay as much in taxes for our medical system as Britons, Canadians, or the French pay for theirs. The difference is that Americans haven't finished paying - we still have to pay more if we actually need to use the health system.

Well, you have to. Me, I now live in England, where healthcare is just as good as anything I got in Montgomery County, Maryland - and I never have to ask what it will cost.

Posted by: Avedon on June 20, 2007 at 7:13 AM | PERMALINK

So here we have Drum willing to accept at face value, Moore's statements, lies and all, without question.

One suspects that this willingness is because it matches Mr. Drum's rather twisted political world view. It's less challenging for Mr. Drum to accept Mr. Moore, lies and all, at face value. Easier than actual thought. Drum's logic never quite makes it so far as to understand that if Moore is lying about THIS, he is far more likely to be lying about THAT. To come that understanding, would be to force oneself to admit that their world view is also a lie.

Would someone please explain to me why anyone takes either one of these two people seriously?

Posted by: Bithead on June 20, 2007 at 7:53 AM | PERMALINK

Bithead, same challenge I gave to Hunter... Please, give me three items from any Michael Moore film that are provably wrong. And give me the proof. Otherwise, Bithead may I suggest you switch your 'B' for an 'Sh'.

Posted by: snicker-snack on June 20, 2007 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

Will, the ballot didn't say "Not Kerry." When you were done voting the tally went up for George W. Bush.

You obviously care nothing about the welfare of the millions of Iraqis who are now living in conditions worse than they were under Hussein's dictatorship. Proud of your vote? Proud of the displaced, disfigured and dead that have resulted from your inability to notice that your favored candidate had no visible qualifications for the office? Proud of the fact that you gave your vote and therefore your stamp of approval to someone whose idea foreign policy is to use the United States military as a re-election tool?

In the end, you actively voted for the Republican Party's Al Sharpton. Twice.

Posted by: noel on June 20, 2007 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

I wish that as Michael Moore goes around on the interview circuit telling everyone that Al Gore should run for President because he is the one possible candidate out there who....I wish that Moore would explain just how and why he campaigned over and over against Gore in 2000 and why that same kind of smug and extremly stupid attitude he had then, which is very common on the net today concerning Hillary and Obama, is a danger to our chances now.

It is sooo ironic that Moore is a Democratic heroe to so many young people today, never knew of his indirect role in placing George Bush in the White House in 2001. I forgive him, but as long as some of the "purist" left still threaten to not be with us in 08, he still has some serious and important explainin' to do....

Posted by: tim l on June 20, 2007 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

Today in Iraq there are 87 fewer people to thank you for their freedom Will. The other 214+ people who were injured in the bombing are also unlikely to thank you for your tribe's "help."

As for Cuba, how much damage has your tribe done by its insistence that the population be punished via crippling sanctions?

One of us cares more about his tribe than the welfare of human beings in the world. I'm sure that the board, unlike you, is not confused about which one that is.

Posted by: noel on June 20, 2007 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

shortstop and clark (?), THANK YOU for pointing out senor drum's rude and unsubstantiated charge that moore is 'usually' fact-challenged, without offering even ONE example...

this is EXACTLY the type of sloppy slur that rethugs use ALL THE TIME without being called out on it; we can not allow 'our' (sort of) leftish/progressive-ish types get away with the SAME type of bullshit, we ARE better than that...

nathan, what a piece of work you are, congratulations, you have successfully internalized amerika's REAL motto: "i've got mine by any means necessary, screw the rest of you losers..." eat shit and die, asswipe...

hunter and other malicious malcontents: ONE person actually bothered to cite some borderline criticism of moore's work that had merit, the rest of you got NOTHING...
here, let me show you how this works:
hunter is a fact-free reichwing jackoff talking out his ass...
now, you see, this is a FACT based on the one and only posting i have ever seen of yours...

YOURS was a nastygram based on your hatred of moore, nothing else proffered...
see the difference ?
hee hee hee
ho ho ho
ha ha ha
ak ak ak

come the revolution, universal healthcare will be mandatory...

art guerrilla
aka ann archy

eof

Posted by: art guerrilla on June 20, 2007 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

actually, I could. stop doing the legal stuff...presto...no real income. go on Medicaid. get well. return to work.

Where do you plan to live with no real income? Not in that $2500 a month apartment, that's for sure. Not only would you have to give up your income and your assets you'd also have to give up your housing. So where exactly do you plan on doing this "getting well"?

Posted by: Stefan on June 20, 2007 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

As for Cuba, how much damage has your tribe done by its insistence that the population be punished via crippling sanctions?

Europe and Canada don't hold sanctions against Cuba. Cuba can get plenty of goods from them. You want to try another theory as to why it's in an economic shithole?

As for infant mortality, six out of 10 pregnancies in Cuba end in abortion.

Posted by: mishu on June 20, 2007 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan: Not only would you have to give up your income and your assets you'd also have to give up your housing. So where exactly do you plan on doing this "getting well"?

He might be able to get a Section 8 apartment in Newark. Just until he "gets well." Of course, there's a waiting list for Section 8 all over the country, so he might have to sleep in Central Park instead. Still, he's saving tens of thousands over the next few years, and there's not that much snow in Sheep Meadow in the winter, so it's worth it.

Will Allen: Stefan likes to pretend he'll come out ahead of the person who purchases health insurance between the age of 32 and 40, but the vast majority of the time he won't.

I'm not Stefan, but I'd guess that like all of us fortunate enough to be able to afford health insurance and bright enough not to refuse it, Stefan doesn't spend a lot of time thinking about how his insurance plan contributions will "get him ahead." If Stefan reaches age 40 without major medical mishaps, I'm pretty sure he won't be muttering, "Damn! Why'd I waste all that money!?" I know you and Nathan won't grasp this, Will, but the point of having health insurance is not to maximize return on your investment, but to avoid the possibility of spending your whole life paying off medical bills or giving up all your assets and earning power so that the state will pay those bills. (And I haven't even touched on the difference in quality and quantity of care between the insured and the uninsured.)

Will again: This may be shocking, but everybody is not the same in regards to that preference, so if you really want people to insure themsleves with greater consistency at those ages, you need to change the incentive structure.

Fortunately, clear thinking is sufficient incentive for all but the most mentally laggardly in this case, Will. If someone is willfully blind to the possibility of ruining or seriously compromising his financial and professional future, purposely uninformed about how public health care works and indifferent to the shame of needlessly requiring others to foot his bills, there's not much more incentivizing to be done.

But I agree we need to change the structure--not of "incentives" but of the entire health care system.

Posted by: shortstop on June 20, 2007 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Europe and Canada don't hold sanctions against Cuba. Cuba can get plenty of goods from them. You want to try another theory as to why it's in an economic shithole?

What kind of moron are you? Do you really think that the decades of sanctions against Cuba have had no effect? Do you think that Will's tribe has insisted on maintaining them for more than forty years just to entertain themselves?

Oh wait, you expect us to go to a right-wing anti-abortion site and believe their take on Cuba. That's what kind of moron you are.

Posted by: noel on June 20, 2007 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

Michael Moore is a true American patriot, a true American hero...and wingnuts hate him...which doesn't say much for their heroism or patriotism, does it?

Anyway, I haven't seen "Sicko" yet, but I'm hoping that he includes stories about how our nation's armed forces veterans are being treated (or mistreated) in Bush's Veterans Administration.

I'm certain Michael Moore could easily do a sequel (call it "Sicko II") about the disgraceful way the neo-con nuts have been treating our soldiers, even as the neo-con nuts yell "Support Our Troops."

It's all a sick Grover Norquist-generated scam, in which these neo-con liars claim they support our troops, while at the same time they cut funding for our troops. Despicable. Disgraceful. Criminal.

Posted by: The Oracle on June 21, 2007 at 1:09 AM | PERMALINK

"Gee, any facts to back that up? If you look at a primary indicator of health care, such as the infant mortality rate:

"According to the latest C.I.A. World Factbook, Cuba is one of 41 countries that have better infant mortality rates than the U.S.""

Cuba has low infant mortality rates mostly because they have one of the highest abortion rates in the world. The US always ranks high in infant mortality because it counts stillbirths into the number and most other countries don't. This is often used to say that the US has a worse healthcare system than France or other countries, but really our infant mortality is on par with other industrialized countries or better; we simply add stillbirths in with that. I don't know why other countries don't, perhaps to make themselves look better than the US? :)

Posted by: Gloria on June 25, 2007 at 6:50 PM | PERMALINK

Aside from the ending which detracts from the emotion engendered by the rest of the film Sicko raises issues we, as a democratic country, must address. Who gets healthcare, how much do they get, and who pays for it? We need solutions to those questions. The only place where I have seen ideas that are worthwhile is www.healthcaresoundoff.com.

Posted by: steve on June 29, 2007 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

News Flash for you some of you. No doubt many of you have very limited attention spans (its why you seek out Hollywood to educate you)
But, try to read it all.(I'm going to tell you how you can get that little A.D.D problem of yours treated)

Socialized medicine already exists in America. For instance, join any branch of the military
and you too can experience the wonders of government administered health care. As Rosie would put it; Walter Reed! GOOGLE IT.
Yes, its all waiting for you...compliments of the U.S. government!!

If actual work-in-return for benefits just turns you off perhaps the Welfare System is more to your liking? They get socialized medicine, dentistry, and food stamps too.

You COULD just go to any emergency room when you're sick(o) they have to treat you with or without insurance (ask any one of illegals standing in line before you I'm sure they'll explain how it all works...if you can just please ask them in thier native language, show some respect here).

America has much to offer the budding socialist, go and Get Some! Be denied no Moore!!! Its your constitutional right for someone else to take care of you and by god (oops) you need to go out and get it whats coming to you!!!

If you've just had it up to here and can not bear it not MOORE, I hear Cuba is taking American refugees. Then there's always sneaking into Mexico (I hear you can just walk across the border! Perhaps you've heard of this unsolvable governmental problem). Lastly, and most complicated...get a passport and go visiting anywhere in the world, see how the other 1/2(?) lives. Don't delay filling out that application because, what with the gross inefficiencies of the U.S governments in administering ANY of its programs (Welfare, the Military, FEMA, Social Security, you name it) you may wait for a very, very, very long time receiving your passport (you have heard about that right?it kind of like the TRUE statistics of waiting to see a specialist in Canada vs seeing one in the USA)

Posted by: steve on June 30, 2007 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

It's so sweet that you just assume that Moore sticks "mostly" to the facts, but do you extend the same graciousness to Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and the like?

Posted by: Lacey on February 19, 2008 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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